Meet Allison Margolin, one of the best marijuana lawyers around, and the only cannabis-focused attorney to be named a SuperLawyer by Thomas Reuters in 2017, giving credence to being L.A.’s dopest attorney. Allison has been active since 2002, starting her career off representing terminally ill patients facing criminal charges for marijuana activity. Allison is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, runs a practice based in Beverly Hills alongside Raza Lawrence (Margolin & Lawrence), and is the author of the book Jury Nullifications and Reasonable Doubt (2008). We’re extremely happy to have Allison Margolin on Elevate the Conversation, especially as California’s undergoing so much change regarding marijuana laws post-legalization. So, without further ado, here’s more from Allison Margolin …
Could you tell us more about some of the more high profile cases you’ve worked on, if you’re at liberty to divulge such information?
My current practice is focused on representing cannabis businesses dealing with California’s new licensing system. We have represented many well-known cannabis companies in California.
I have also handled all types of criminal cases, from marijuana to murder. My clients have been from all walks of life, ranging from sophisticated business owners to people struggling with mental illness or addiction.
How does a person make sense of cannabis law as it stands today in California? What legislators do to prevent medical dispensaries from unnecessarily shutting down and spend time waiting for recreational laws to “catch up”?
Cannabis is now heavily regulated and taxed in California. Making the adjustments to operate in this type of environment has been difficult for many cannabis business people, who had been operating as informal non-profit collectives. The new laws create a great opportunity for cannabis growers and retailers to create and grow legitimate businesses. I believe we will see the laws and regulations adapting over time as the government sees what works and what does not in this industry. I hope the government will be flexible and not too strict over these next few months as everyone gets used to the new system.
What does Youtube think of your advert, considering that they don’t like people monetising cannabis-related things (e.g. Facebook doesn’t like cannabis-related advertising).
Attitudes about cannabis-related ads are changing so fast. What used to be extremely risqué is now everywhere in the open. We still encounter some issues in promoting our business due to the nature of our clients, but we are careful to follow the laws ourselves, and most people realize that we are providing a legitimate business as lawyers.
How much have attitudes towards cannabis changed since you started practising law? Have lawmakers and law enforcement started to take a more “hands-off” approach?
Recently, it was in a felony in California to sell even one gram of marijuana or grow one plant. Today, local governments across the state are licensing all different types of cannabis businesses. The culture on this issue has changed dramatically in recent years. All the details of cannabis cultivation, distribution, and retail are now controlled more tightly by the government, so we are actually seeing a more hands-on approach from lawmakers and law enforcement.
What can we do to help those who have been incarcerated for cannabis selling and possession, especially now that it’s legal on a state level?
My firm has done a lot of work helping people imprisoned for marijuana, including working with the Marijuana Lifer’s Project. Fortunately, California’s marijuana legalization was retroactive, meaning people incarcerated for marijuana were able to be freed. California has also changed its imprisonment policies in recent years to create alternative programs like house arrest and community service for non-violent offenders. There is still work to be done to liberate many who are incarcerated for victimless crimes, including marijuana.
How much legal protection does a medical marijuana card and recommendation really provide?
Under California’s new system, medical recommendations allow you to grow and possess marijuana for personal use, but do not allow you to do any commercial cannabis activity, unless you have both a state and local law.
What are some laws that every cannabis enthusiast in California should know, but probably doesn’t? Are there any particular areas of the law where a grower, patient or business should be aware of, and could easily get tripped over by without realising it?
There are so many new laws and regulations that could trip people up that I would advise anyone working in this industry to get a good lawyer to make sure you are in compliance.
Finally, what makes the cannabis plant so special?
It is special to me because it is a great way to destress and unwind. It allows the mind to take a step back and inhibits a change in perspective. It’s a fantastic way to manage everything one can do and decompress. It helps to resolve personal issues and other things a person may be stuck on.
Check out Elevate the Conversation this Valentine’s Day, Wednesday 02/14/2018 and learn more about the ins and outs of cannabis law with Allison Margolin.